Kind or Nice, what's the difference?

Kind or Nice, Which Are You? Hint, the differences matter!

Are you kind or nice? Does it matter, and is there a difference? The answer is a resounding, yes! And if you are a guy, the ideas in this post especially apply to you. A few years ago, I wrote a post entitled Being Good vs. Being Nice. This ended up being one of my more popular posts, and if you keep reading, I think you’ll see why.

In the kind vs. nice debate, we’ll see that words matter. There are subtle differences between being a kind man/a good guy and being a nice one. But these tiny shifts make a massive difference.

Kind or Nice: What Niceness Looks Like

So which is better, being kind or being nice? The best place to start this journey is by examining the definition of these two words. Let’s start with “nice.” According to Dictionary.com, three words that encapsulate niceness include pleasing, agreeable, and delightful.

Now, lets dive even deeper with Miriam Webster’s Student Dictionary, which states:

Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant “foolish or stupid.” This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning “ignorant.” By the 16th century, the sense of being “very particular” or “finicky” had developed.

In borrowing words from these two definitions, we might say that a nice guy is “very particular” and even “finicky” about pleasing those around him. When others are ruffled, the nice guy’s inner world turns upside down. The nice guy’s motto is “please and appease.” As a result, nice guys become:

  • Self-appointed victims
  • They are easily thrown off-balance by the emotions of others.
  • Nice guys are people of loose convictions. They let go of their beliefs to appease others.
  • As a result, they are internally frustrated and conflicted.
  • Nice guys mistakenly believe that if they can only be nice enough, then everything will work in their favor.

Kind or Nice: What Kindness Looks Like

Now, let’s contrast this with being kind or good. Immediately, we note from Dictionary.com that kind and good are synonymous. A kind person is defined as having “a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person: a kind and loving person.

Words like good, benevolent, and loving may sound soft. But they are not. A kind or good person will:

  • Doggedly refuse to enable others no matter how upset they become.
  • Boldly stick to his or her moral convictions, even if it means dying for them.
  • A kind person will respectfully rock the boat and assertively disagree without being a jerk in the process.

Do you see the difference?

Kind vs. Nice Arguments: How to disagree without being a wimp or a bulldozer.

Nice guys are internal jellyfish—they have no spine. The will let go of their internal convictions to please and appease. This is one of thee many problems with being nice.

Jerks, on the other hand, are bulldozers. The will plow over the feelings of others just to get their way.

Somewhere in between these two extremes are men of honor. These men are kind. They are willing to die for their family if needed and hold tightly to their convictions. Most guys I know value humor, fun, and doing relationships side-by-side. We like to connect through sports, physical activities, laughter, and joy. And we don’t enjoy getting stuck in long, drawn-out arguments.

Kind men know how to set healthy boundaries. They are not afraid to ask for what they want and need. And, they are also able to handle being told “no.”

The Kind and Nice Difference

As you can see, nice guys and kind guys are very different. A nice guy will try to change you. When someone is upset, the nice guy’s world is rocked. His goto strategy is to please and appease, “can’t we all just get along,” and wonders, How can I get you not to be upset anymore?

The problem is, your feelings are not within his realm of control. Often, the harder nice guys try, the more those around them feel upset. A kind guy, on the other hand, uses his waffle-like genetics to his advantage. The metaphor comes from the book, Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences. Guys have a unique ability to compartmentalize, and kind men use this to their advantage.

A kind man will decide an argument is finished, shut that box, and get back to his core values. If he values laughter, joy, fun, and side-by-side connection, then he will get back to that and not allow others to reopen that “argument box.”

Being kind or nice

Kindness in Marriage: How to choose kind over nice

Are you kind or nice? As we have seen, the difference matters.

Both kind husbands and nice husbands are going to have disagreements with their wives that simply cannot be resolved. According to relationship researcher John Gottman,

Most marital arguments cannot be resolved. Couples spend year after year trying to change each other’s mind—but it can’t be done. This is because most of their disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences of lifestyle, personality, or values. By fighting over these differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and harming their marriage.

– The Seven Principle for Making Marriage Work

If you and your loved one have ongoing disagreements, then congratulations, you are normal! The kind guy understands this. The nice guy does not. Many nice guys take their wife’s anger as a sign there is something fundamentally wrong with them. Then, they seek to appease their loved on or to change her beliefs.

The kind guy, on the other hand, chooses to move to the next box in his waffle-like personality. He spends time in the disagreement box. If the issue is not resolved, he knows it’s time to move on. As a result, he returns to being his kind, fun-loving, connected, engaged self.

The kind guy knows that he can always take 100 percent responsibility for the controllables. He can’t change his wife, but he can courageously follow his convictions.

How to End an Argument by Choosing Kindness

The best way to end an argument with kindness is to begin with a solid foundation of connection. Happy couples have a routine of happy habits build into their day. They understand that sometimes it’s the little things (like a kind word, gentle touch, and simply enjoying time in one another’s presence) that matter most!

This is true because human beings are hardwired to connect. Relationships are a lot like air, water, food, and shelter. Our human brain does not view these things as a nicety but as a necessity. Happy couples talk about everything!

In fact, the same area of our brain lights up when we experience physical and emotional pain. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Love hurts!” And this is where the idea comes from.

Only, it’s not love that hurts, but being emotionally disconnected from someone we long to be close to that causes this anguish. So the first key principle to understand is that when a relationship disconnection occurs, striving to get back to being happily connected is kind.

The second thing to understand is that this responsibility lays with both of you. Your job is not to “make” your partner connect. Instead, it’s to courageously reach out. Reaching for your partner in a compassionate way is a win, regardless of how she responds. Reaching might occur through a kind word, soft smile, gentle touch, or by simply enjoying time in one another’s presence.

If you’re a couple who already has a series of happy connection routines in place, then getting back to baseline will be much easier.

Happy habits that are kind vs being nice

Diving Deeper into Being Kind vs Being Nice

Two excellent books on choosing to be good or kind over being nice include No More Mr. Nice Guy and No More Christian Nice Guy. In fact, there is even a No More Christian Nice Girl book available.

So which are you, kind or nice? As you can see, the difference matters. Making the transition from nice to good isn’t always easy. And if you’d like to dive deeper, I’m here to help. You can schedule a free coaching call here and we’ll dive in together!

Let’s Continue the Kind vs. Nice Conversation

Do you have something to add to the conversation on being kind vs. being nice? We’d love to hear from you. Simply leave your thoughts in the comments below. Let us know what it means to be a kind or good guy? Do you agree with our thoughts on niceness or have we been too hard on the nice guy? What have you learned in your good vs. nice journey?

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

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